The Year Of Magical Thinking – MP3

Once again, the epiphany arrived at the intersection of 72d & Broadway.

The first few drops of the first spring rain were falling. The air was thick and warm. Rush hour traffic was slowing. A few blocks uptown, spotlights searched the sky above The Beacon. I was double-crossing Broadway and 73d concurrently when I thought, ‘Everything is good right now. Remember this. Don’t get hit.’

I’m a longtime fan of Douglas Coupland. He might be the only author (save maybe JD Salinger) about whom I can say that I’ve read everything he’s written. His books, from the seminal “Generation X” and “Microserfs,” to the lesser-known “Grilfriend In A Coma” and “Miss Wyoming” have never, ever failed to strike a chord in me.

Coupland has a new film premiering in a few weeks. “Everything’s Gone Green,” the Vancouver-based author’s first screenplay, tells the tale of a “twentysomething uberslacker who is nonetheless willing to fall into accidental success.”

The operative words in this blurb, of course, are “twentysomething” and “accidental,” both of which are characteristic of Coupland’s writting. These are the stock and trade of his novels. Wikipedia summarizes his work thusly:

Persistent themes include the conflict between secular and religious values, difficulty in aging and taking on adult roles, ironic attitudes as a response to intense media saturation, and an aesthetic fascination with pop culture and mass culture.

I never read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years Of Solitude,” but I learned the phrase “magical realism” from it. For me, a tale-end Gen Xer bombarded by Reaganism, commerialism, and lots of other isms, Coupland is my magical realist. His novels are about the Hipsters and Yuppies next door, but with a twist. In each of his novels, it seems, some freakish, random even befalls one or more of the characters. “Miss Wyoming,” for example, survives a plane crash. “Eleanor Rigby” protagonist Liz Dunnm finds a meteorite in her front yard. In Coupland’s book, small, inexplicable things happen to small, inexplicable lives… and change them forever.

And so, when I received an email inviting me to screen his new film in two weeks, I lept at the chance. And asked for an interview.

I would certainly hope for more time than the standard “junket.” Ideally (given that I don’t know to what degree he’s supporting the film, or to what lengths you’re interested in going for MTV), I’d buy him a cup of tea and chat in a unique setting (ex: Bethesda Fountain, or Top of the Rock — somewhere that riffs on the film’s themes). A bit more complicated to plan, but waaaay cooler. Otherwise (sigh), we can fall back on ye old phoner.

Mr. Coupland and I, it ends up, will share some Earl Gray (or something) in a few weeks. Meanwhile, between wedding planning, rehearsals, and (oh yeah) work, I’ve been sorting through Google to inform our conversation. Which is where I found this little quote:

For about four months back in the 90s I kept what was once called a diary, and I enjoyed doing it but what happened was — and I think this is a very common response — is when you start living your life inside your diary you become quite mercenary, and it’s all about ‘will this make a good entry?’

Suddenly your life becomes that Warholian thing where every moment of your life should be something you can sell, you’re always taking pictures, taping everything, and then I think it’s just psychologically strange.

So I’m crossing the street and the air is thick and sweet and smells like moist, warm soil, and I think to myself, ‘Dude, your life is good. This is a good life. You are lucky. Relish it. Remember it.”

And I think about how I have willed my life to be great. And I have worked tomake it great. And I think about how I have chosen to work hard, and to imagine the possibility that there is more to changing one’s life than just wishing. There is vision, and action, words and deed and faith. And then, though, there is magical thinking; the thinking that magic is possible. There are near misses, miracles, shooting stars, and moments when love taps you on the shoulder and says, “Good show.”

So I stop at Broadway Farms (ironically named, huh?), purchase a bag of Happy Herbert Pretzals, an Amy’s Organic Cheese Pizza, and a six pack of Harp, and then walk home in the rain.

As soon as I get upstairs, I take of my jacket, put down my bag, pour a beer, walk upstairs, and write “The Year Of Magical Thinking” (with special thanks to Joan Didion).

“Remember this,” I sang.

You’ll miss it when you’re gone
The way we always woke up with the dawn
Remember this you’ll miss it when you’re old
The way we clung together in the cold
Before the comet breaks the skyline
And the lightening splits the sun
Remember this someday it will be gone

Sometimes it’s all about the thinking. And the magic. And remembering, if only for an instant, to remember.


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